For many years, Berlin-based painter, Jens Hausmann has been one of the most notable painters in the field of architecture in central Europe. Even if this label in itself is slightly misleading, because for Hausmann his work is not about architecture, but rather about painting.
He is a constructivist in the best sense, as his architectural and pictorial spaces are constructions. While many of his architectural forms are based on real buildings, the buildings are mere triggers for the creation of an image. His scenarios are constructed realities, rather than a portrayal thereof.
Although the landscape fragments and vegetation that inhabit his paintings have a seemingly romantic element to them, the confrontation between culture and nature is not to be understood in the romantic sense. In his paintings, Hausman makes it clear that nature no longer stands for the ‘other’ that is independent of humankind and therefore the opposite of culture, but rather something already “culturally contaminated” in the age of the Anthropocene and therefore no longer independent of human beings. Even in the deepest deep-sea trenches, in perpetual ice or on the peaks of the mountains one can find the impact of human activity.
Mostly very artificial in their glaringly “unnatural” colours, these natural set pieces give the impression of being more furnishings for a humanly-defined pictorial space than an unruly and freely developing nature. Nevertheless, both architecture and nature are performers on the stages that are his image surface and only together do they form the stimulating scenarios of his paintings. Architecture fragments the pictorial space and with it the surrounding landscape/nature.
As Hausmann so aptly says, he tries to “keep his romantic waves on a short leash”. While the rear-view of figures in German Romanticism already pushes people back, staging them no longer as actors but as observers, Hausmann is consequential and take a step further and does entirely without the human figure. Nevertheless, in every corner of his mystically constructed imagery, the human is present as perpetual creator.
Just like in the largescale painting “Raumstation”, many of his images act like a stage on which something has either just happened or could soon happen. In conversation, Hausmann mentions the meaning of the moment when nothing happens – in which the plot freezes just before something happens. The actual event is more in the mind of the beholder. Herein seemingly lies the reason for the cinematic appeal of many of his works. One is reminded of the dramatic composition of many Hitchcock films.
On the one hand, a secret flows through his paintings – while on the other, the rationality of the construction is clearly visible and the partially brutalist coolness of the glass and concrete surfaces resists any mystification and romanticisation. In the large landscape format “Daytime Astronomy”, the plants seem to creep up on the building like eerie beings, pointing to the fact that sooner or later nature will seize its space back. Surely Hausmann is influenced by Brazil’s tropical vegetation and its modernism, which is based on the European due to his frequent visits to the country where his wife artist Isabelle Borges is from. His work is also very popular in Brazil. For example, the Fábrica de Arte Marcos Amaro (FAMA) museum has just acquired 60 works that will be exhibited in an entire room in Sao Paulo in July 2020.
Exhibition: 20.03. – 18.04.2020